Christina Neal

Volcanologist with 37 years experience in hazard science, communications, mitigation, and leadership.


I have worked for the USGS on various aspects of volcanology, eruption response, and hazard mitigation since 1983. I was introduced to volcanoes in college looking at Viking Orbiter images of Olympus Mons on Mars. My first Earthly volcano was Mount St. Helens where I spent the summer of 1982 studying small-volume pyroclastic flow deposits from 1980. I learned about lava and volcano monitoring as an assistant geologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in the early days of the Pu`u`O`o eruption and mapped the summit and southwest rift zone of Kīlauea Volcano as part of the Big Island Geologic Mapping Project. In 1985, I spent a month at sea on an ALVIN expedition to the active propagating rift system near the Galapagos at 95.5W. I moved to the new Alaska Volcano Observatory in 1990 where I participated in eruption response and related studies at Redoubt, Spurr, Augustine, Okmok, and other Aleutian volcanoes. My science focus was on illuminating eruptive histories at Aniakchak and Okmok calderas, characterizing young pyroclastic deposits and processes, and hazard assessment. I've developed strong interests and experience in managing volcano hazard information, developing warning systems, interagency coordination, and volcanic ash and aviation hazards.  For some time, I led collaboration with colleagues in Kamchatka and Sakhalin to expand Russian eruption warning systems. I served as the first USGS Geoscience Advisor to USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (1998-2000) where I facilitated programming to support disaster mitigation abroad. From 2009-2010, I completed two details to the USGS Western Regional Office as Chief of Staff and Deputy Regional Director. In 2011-2012, I represented the Volcano Hazards Program during development of the USGS Hazards Mission Strategic Science Plan. I served as Scientist-in-Charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory from 2015-2020, overseeing a staff of 30 and managing response to the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption and summit collapse of Kīlauea.  During my tenure, I focused on hiring a new generation of HVO scientists, planning for new facilities and science initiatives following Congressional funding following the 2018 event, and preparing for a Mauna Loa eruption. I have now returned to Anchorage and the Alaska Volcano Observatory to complete legacy Alaska volcano studies and special projects on behalf of the USGS Alaska Region.